Situated on a rise in a fairly level landscape. An oblique aerial photograph (CUCAP: AYS058) from 1969 shows the faint cropmark of a circular enclosure (diam. c. 45m) defined by a slight fosse. At S a ditch leads S to connect with the cropmark of an E-W drain of a rectangular field system (ME038-002----). Archaeological testing (04E0422) by L. Clarke in advance of the M3 motorway failed to recover evidence of the enclosure (excavations.ie 2004:1210), but open area stripping identified it. The enclosure (int. diam. c. 43m) was excavated (E003092) by K. Wiggins as Ross 1 between the beginning of December 2006 and the end of March 2007 (excavations.ie 2007:1384), which was part of the M3 motorway scheme, although a portion of the fosse at E was outside the land-take.
The enclosure is defined by a round-bottomed fosse (Wth of top 2.3-3.2m; D c. 1.2m) which has an entrance causeway (Wth 3.5m) at SE, but the fosse was re-cut (Wth 3.8m; D 1.8m) in the SW quadrant in the later middle ages. The fosse produced some animal bone, including the articulated remains of a large dog from the primary fill at NW. A copper alloy ring was also in the lower fill, but a copper alloy stick pin of probable eleventh century AD date was near the top of the fill. There was no evidence of an earthen bank associated with the fosse, but a cereal-drying kiln (ME038-001002-) and two hearths were found outside the fosse at N. A hut-site (ME038-001001-), recorded as a circular area (int. diam. 4.65m) defined by a slot-trench (Wth 0.35m) with a narrow opening (Wth 0.35m) at W, was in the SE quadrant very close to the inner edge of the enclosure fosse and probably pre-dating the enclosure. A structure (dims c. 11m N-S; c. 3.5m E-W) consisting of two N-S lines with four post-holes in each was in the S interior of the enclosure.
The ditch (Wth 2.6m; D 1.8m) extending S from the fosse was excavated (L 56m) and found to have been re-cut (Wth 2m; D 0.5m) beginning 10m S of the enclosure fosse and extending S. The re-cut ditch contained glazed and unglazed pottery, a belt buckle, a horseshoe and nails, and it was contemporary with the re-cutting of the fosse in the SW quadrant of the enclosure. Two stony causeways were put across the silted ditches of the enclosure at W, post-dating the abandonment. (Wiggins et al. 2009)
Although there is some medieval material from the upper levels of the fosse, the radiocarbon dates prove to be surprisingly early for an enclosure that has every appearance of being a rath (O’Connell 2013, 52). A sample from the primary fill of the enclosure ditch returned a date of 1010-820 cal. BC (BETA 250163), and another sample from the primary fill has a C14 date of 60 cal. BC - 80 cal. AD (BETA 253968). However, artefacts from the upper levels of the fosse suggest a date in the later first millennium AD. Samples from the primary fill of the drainage ditch have C14 determinations of 1420-1130 cal. BC (BETA 247075) and 790-420 cal. BC or 460-420 cal. BC (BETA 253969). While no stratigraphic division can be identified, it is likely that this is an enclosed settlement dating from the later prehistoric period with a re-use as a rath in the first millennium AD.
See the attached plan from Wiggins et al. (2009, fig. 7)
The above description is derived from the published 'Archaeological Inventory of County Meath' (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1987). In certain instances the entries have been revised and updated in the light of recent research.
Compiled by: Michael Moore
Date of upload: 10 July 2007
Amended: 13 April 2022
O’Connell, A. 2013 Harvesting the Sun: A Pagan Temple at Lismullin, Co. Meath. NRA Monographs 11, The National Roads Authority, Dublin
Aerial photograph (CUCAP, AYS 58) shows cropmark of circular enclosure (diam. c. 45m). Associated with field system (ME038-002----).
Description Source: Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage